American Girl, the line of dolls that come with their own personal story, has discontinued two historical characters of color: African American Cecile and Asian American Ivy, two dolls that represent a diversity not often seen on the shelves at toy stores. The Mattel-owned company retired the dolls in order to re-launch a new historical character line. American Girl wrote in the comment section of its announcement, “With the re-launch planned for this fall, we have decided to move away from the character-friend strategy within the line, which means we will no longer offer Ruthie, Ivy, or Cecile and Marie-Grace.”
The historical character line was created by aligning three pairs of dolls who are best friends under strained circumstances, presented through the lens of various periods in American history. For instance, in an example provided by the American Girl site, Cecile Rey and Marie-Grace Gardner form an “unlikely bond” in New Orleans, Lousiana when sickness spreads through the city. This friendship is formed directly after the Civil War and is most likely linked to the Reconstruction Period where slaves were assimilating into greater American society. Asian American Ivy Ling is the best friend of Julie Albright. Living in San Francisco, their friendship was shaped by Chinese immigration during the 1970s. Ling’s character represents Asian-American girls who are first generation and strive to make their families proud.
With Cecile and Ivy leaving the line, only Addy, Josefina (New Mexican) and Kaya (Nez Perce) will represent dolls of color. Addy is an African-American slave.
Since business and media has a huge impact on the way children feel about issues that directly affect them, MadameNoire asked 10-year-old Rachel Andries for her thoughts about the issue. “I like black dolls because they make me feel beautiful,” she told MN. “Also I can dress them up and style them the way I would like to dress.” When she heard American Girl will only be selling Addy, Rachel shared, “I would choose Cecile Rey over Addy because slavery was not nice.”
Due to the announcement, American Girl’s historical line is selling like hot cakes. Do you think consumers will still support American Girl after Cecile and Ivy say their final goodbyes? Do you have suggestions for the new line of dolls?